Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Tigers.
Major League Signings
- Jose Valverde, RP: two years, $14MM. Includes $9MM club option for '12.
- Johnny Damon, LF: one year, $8MM.
- Adam Everett, SS: one year, $1.55MM.
- Brad Thomas, P: one year, $400K (estimated).
- Total spend: $23.95MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
- Acquired CF Austin Jackson, P Phil Coke, RP Daniel Schlereth, and SP Max Scherzer; gave up CF Curtis Granderson and SP Edwin Jackson
- Traded C Dusty Ryan to Padres for a player to be named later or cash considerations
- Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson, Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Placido Polanco, Aubrey Huff, Jarrod Washburn, Marcus Thames, Dusty Ryan, Freddy Dolsi, Dane Sardinha, Matt Treanor
The offseason began with stories about the Tigers needing to trim payroll. Saddled with many bad contracts, GM Dave Dombrowski unloaded two good ones in Granderson and Edwin Jackson. After the December blockbuster it was confusing to see the Tigers commit $22MM to Valverde and Damon in win-now moves (Valverde can contribute beyond 2010, of course).
However, the Edwin Jackson-Scherzer component might provide the best of both worlds - decent savings with no downgrade in production or talent. And as Joe Pawlikowski explains in this FanGraphs article, the Tigers will gain a lot of payroll flexibility in 2011 due to Dombrowski's offseason moves as well as expiring extensions.
Still, moving Granderson hurts the Tigers in 2010. If his 2011 salary was a problem, he could've been traded after this season. Even optimistic projections (i.e., no injuries) have the Tigers' 2010 offense as below-average. The rotation looks shaky too - Scherzer and Rick Porcello must pile up innings, while the #4-5 spots are huge question marks.
I understand attempting a run in 2010, since there is star talent in Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and no real way to unload the overpaid veterans. I just think you keep Granderson as part of that 2010 run and find payroll space for a starting pitching addition. I'm not sure if Scherzer-Edwin Jackson could've been facilitated without the Yankees' contribution. But if you make that swap and keep Granderson (as opposed to signing Damon) that's more than $5MM to play with toward a free agent starter. The extra three to five wins gained from keeping Granderson and adding, say, Joel Pineiro, might've pushed the Tigers into contention.